Pre-game Tidbits (No Jack)

* Stephen Jackson is out with a severly sprained left hand. It is so swollen, he needs a brace. He’s got to sit until the swelling goes down. It’s not broken, so he won’t be out for an extended period of time. It is uncertain whether he will play Monday against Miami. Jax doesn’t do pre-game interviews, so I’ll get you more info after the game.
UPDATE: It’s officially a sprained left wrist (though his knuckles were swollen, too) and he is day-to-day.

* Guess who is starting in Jackson’s place? No, not Morrow. Not Azubuike (though he is starting). MARCO BELINELLI! That’s right, Nellie is giving Belinellie a turn. There is a Marco section behind the Warriors bench. So they get a treat. Azubuike is starting because Brandan Wright is out of the starting lineup. He had started at PF against Washington and Boston. Yup, another game, another lineup.

* Forward Al Harrington showed up while some Warriors were shooting. He came over to speak to them. He was all smiles, looking like the happiest man in the world. (Inside locker room joke: Al told Jax he wasn’t playing because he was scared.)

* Jamal Crawford was swarmed by the New York meida, illustrating why he is loving the move to the Bay, which he calls “low speed” environment.


Post-game Tidbits (at Cleveland)

You know it’s a bad night when C.J. Watson leads the team in scoring (17). Nothing against C.J., but if he’s the Warriors’ answer to LeBron James, then you’re getting blown out. And that’s exactly what the Warriors got – blown out!

* I don’t think Maggette touch the rim all night. Either he swished all net (on his three made field goals) or he airballed. He went from 32 points at Boston to 11 points at Cleveland. He is hardly driving at all, just shooting jumpers. That combined with at least three air balls on Friday is a sign that his hammy is still bothering him.

* Jackson was especially irritated after the game. He was devouring a slice of pepperoni pizza while he was expressing his obvious frustration.
“Pizza good,” he said before answering questions.

Can you stay positive without winning?

“You have to. that’s all you can do at this point.”

Can you pinpoint what’s going wrong?

“I have no clue what’s going on. Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t even know.”

How do you go from good offense at Boston to such bad offense at Cleveland?

“We weren’t passing the ball. When we share the ball, good things happen. When everybody’s out there for self, we ain’t going to win like that. We don’t play like that. When we have success, we share the ball, we pass to the open man. We have everybody looking for the open man. We wasn’t doing that tonight.”

Is that the fault of the youngsters or the vets?

“Nah. Coach came in and said the youngsters are looking at us and not doing it, so I guess it’s us. I thought I was leading the team in assists, wasn’t I? So I know it ain’t me.”

Do you guys go into games knowing what to do?

“We have to know bevcause taht’s what we go thorugh teh gamea plans before the game and shootraoud. And to come out in the game and not to remember nothing, what were we doing at shootaround? We’re always prepared to play. It’s just about us bringing the game plan to the game. We haven’t done that.”

Last year’s team showed it could bounce back from a losing streak. Are you worried with this team it could get really bad?

“I’m going to try and stay positive and say it won’t get bad, but we can’t keep saying we’re going to get the next one. We can’t keep relying on that. You got to actually do it. It can get bad, but hopefully we come out tomorrow with the attitude of not letting us come on a road and not win a game.”

*If the Warriors don’t win at the Knicks, it could get really bad. This five-game skid could get to 10. After New York, the Warriors host Miami, visit Houston and San Antonio before playing at Oklahoma City. Miami is a solid .500-type 10 that just won at Phoenix. The Rockets and Spurs are bonafide playoff teams. That could be nine consecutive losses heading into OKC. At that point, you couldn’t rule out a win by the Thunder, who would be licking their chops to get a win against the struggling Warriors.
In other words, the Warriors need a win bad at New York.

* Nellie offered up the youngsters as sacrifice again. Not as blatant, but certainly unsolicited. It’s kind of like a built in excuse.

Is it to the point where you don’t know what you’re going to get from night to night?
“I think that’s true with any young team. You’re not really sure. You play one player in there, you know, you compensate. You have two young ones in there, it makes it very difficult. One of them probably always probably always making some sort of an error. But it’s not just the young guys. Our ball movement wasn’t crisp. Then we had too many turnovers and not enough rebounds. But they’re one of the best teams, too, so uh, take that into account.”

At least for this night, his vets cost him. It was Jack and Corey combining to go 5-for-22 for 22 points. It was Goose getting outplayed by Zydrunas Ilgauskas. It was Crawford committing five turnovers getting an untimely technical foul (though he was hacked and it wasn’t called).

* Here’s one thing I don’t understand. Cleveland is on a run. The Warriors couldn’t stop them with the plague. What’s more, they couldn’t score. Another of their usual third-quarter droughts. Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to put in Morrow and/or Belinelli for some instant offense? Not just put them in, but run something for them, get them so good looks. Isn’t that better than turnaround jumpers by Jackson and pull-up 3s from Maggette? How many times does the iso on the low block need to fail before they go to more efficient methods? Teams are just helping on Maggackson, even double-teaming. You need other weapons to open it up. Put Morrow and Belinelli in the game and make the defense pick their poison. And don’t yank them after they go 0-for-2, but make sure they get 4 or 5 good looks.
I know. I know. They can’t play defense. But it ain’t like the starters were locking down the Cavs. Do you need Maggette and Jackson and Azubuike in the game (combined for 8-for-30) at the same time? Take one of them out, even two and see if you can get something going on offense, IMHO.
Nellie finally did put them in, early in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the game was already over.


Pre-game Tidbits (at Cleveland)

Not exactly pre-game anymore, thanks to internet problems. Nonetheless …

* Brandan Wright is starting for the second-consecutive game. Nellie, to match-up with the opponent’s size, has opted to start an extra big man instead of Kelenna Azubuike. The Cavs have a frontline of LeBron, Wallace and Ilgauskas.

* LeBron James responded to Charles Barkley’s comments rather bluntly. Barkley said the all the talk about James going to New York in 2010 was disrespectful. James’ response: “He’s stupid. That’s all I’ve got to say.” I kept waiting for a smile. It never came.

* Guard Anthony Morrow said he made the expectations too high with his breakout performances in his first opportunity. That’s why his 6-for-22 shooting over the last three games (not counting Wednesday’s affair in Boston, which Morrow watched in its entirety from the bench), seems like such a fallf rom grace.
“I did kind of set the bar too high,” he said before the game. “But sometimes you’ve got to kick the door down, let ’em know you’re there. Nobody’s going to shoot 60 percent every game. I don’t care who they are.”
It doesn’t help Morrow that he isn’t getting shots while he’s out there. When he was rolling, the Warriors were working him into the offense. Lately, he’s been out there hoping to get a shot, which only increase the pressure of every shot. It’s a tough task for a rookie to play 3-5 minutes, get one or two shots – knowing that if they don’t go down you may be done for the night.
As I’ve said before, if he’s in the game, they need to be getting him shots. No point in him being in the game so everyone else can jack up 20 footers.


Post-game Tidbits (at Boston)

A little late. My bad. Nonetheless, some observations:

* It has become apparent of late that Andris Biedrins has a weakness in his game other than free throws and post-ups. He struggles against athletic big men. When he is not longer, faster and playing with more energy, he is hardly as effective. It takes a lot of energy out of him to keep up with those types, and he isn’t the type of big man who goes down on the other end and make them pay on offense. Samuel Dalembert, JaVale McGee and Kevin Garnett exposed Biedrins. You don’t realize how much Biedrins got off people overlooking him and not paying attention to him. Wednesday, when a shot went up, Garnett went for Biedrins to block him out. Both Garnett and Dalembert defended Biedrins as if they’d studied his moves, even blocking his little flip shots.

* Remember Morrow gave Nellie “hope”? How is it he gets a DNP on Wednesday? Nobody (smart) expected him to get 37 every night. But how do you have a weapon like that on the bench and don’t use him.
Morrow has missed some shots, but the last couple of games they had been random attempts, not design plays to get him good looks. He’s come in, got one or two shots and come back out. Wednesday, he didn’t come in at all.
How about when the Celtics are going on one of their runs, and the Warriors can’t buy a shot, come in with Morrow and run him off two or three screens? At least put him on the floor to keep the Celtics from collapsing and helping on the hot hands, Maggette and Jax.

* Nobody was bothered at all by Crawford’s poor shooting. He was 5-for-17 on Wednesday after going 4-for-10 on Tuesday at Washington. With Nellie ball, it’s the attacking that matters. It’s making the defense account for you. Crawford is getting assists because he draws the defense. The expectation in the locker room was that he would start knocking down shots. No one expressed any kind of problem with the amount of shots he’s taken.

* What happened to Azubuike. He had score 15 points or more for six straight games. Wednesday, he took two shots. That’s almost inexcusable. For the Warriors to tout about having so many weapons, how is it they are finishing games with rounds in the clip?


Post-game Tidbits

After that ugly performance, the Warriors are in danger of going 0-for on this roadie. You have to assume they’ll lose at Boston, especially on a back-to-back, even if the Celtics have one foot out the door for Thanksgiving. At Cleveland will be tough on Friday, too. If they go into New York, another back-to-back, 0-4 on the roadie, they might be perfect prey for the win-hungry Knicks.
Anyway, onto the tidbits:

* Nellie all but blamed the loss on the youngsters:
“We played an inspired team tonight. They outworked us, outhustled us and outplayed us. Washington did everything well and we did nothing well. I’m pretty disappointed with how my team played, especially the young players. They all played poorly given that thy have been playing better of late.
“I expect more energy from them and to compete better than what they gave us tonight. Everyone that got in tonight seemed to make some errors. You have a coach that wants to play the young players, but it is very hard to play them when they play like that.”
Is Nellie setting up his eventual benching of the young players? Is he paving the way for a seven-man rotation, excluding Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph?
Here are the youngsters numbers, in case you were wondering:

Morrow 15:07 minutes, 2-for-7 (1-4 from 3), 6 points, 2 turnovers
Watson 18:53 minutes, 3-for-5, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Randolph 19:29 minutes, 1-for-7, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 5 turnovers, 2 blocks
Wright 16:06 minutes, 5-for-6, 10 points, five rebounds

Randolph has struggled considerably lately. Not only is cold offensively, he keeps turning the ball over from trying to do too much. But Wright has played consistently solid, IMHO, and they’ve gone away from Morrow. He’s getting a random shot here and there, and they aren’t working as hard to find him and get him open.

* Andray Blatche not only balled, he embarrassed the Warriors. He dunked on Wright and Randolph. He was slapping shots against the glass. He was talking trash and making faces. Dude looked like a beast. He’ll probably go 1-for-8 in the next game.

* He would never say anything, being the consummate teammate, but Ronny Turiaf is hardly getting any burn. He played less than 10 minutes on Tuesday and he’s logged fewer than 15 minutes in eight of the last 11 games. Turiaf is tied for fifth in the league with 28 blocks. There are 21 players in the league with at least 20 blocks. Turiaf, by far plays the fewest minutes (15.8) of the bunch. The closest is Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas, who has 25 blocks and is averaging 22.5 minutes.
So why isn’t Turiaf getting more minutes? He’s averaging 2.6 points on 38.2 percent shooting with 3.0 rebounds.

* Check out this soundbite from Caron Butler about the Wizards coaching change, courtesy of Wizards beat writer Ivan Carter from the Washington Post:
“Coach Jordan will be a lifelong friend and somone I communicate with for the rest of my life,” Butler said. “To see him go, that was tough. That’s why I didn’t talk yesterday because it hurt. But at the same time, now that we’ve got Obama on the sideline with us now, we’re going to ride with it.”
Apparently, he was calling new coach Ed Tapscott president-elect Barack Obama. Check out his explanation.
“Yeah, he’s light-skinned. He has a law degree. He stands for change. He uses big words. He’s new in the district and he’s in control now, so shout-out to Obama. We won tonight so we have hope.”


Pre-game Tidbits

A few notes heading into tonight’s game …

* Jamal Crawford will start at point guard tonight, his first game with the Warriors. He crammed last night trying to learn the plays. He said this afternoon that there are about seven or eight plays he knows well enough to run right now. He likely won’t hardly need that many

* Either swingman Kelenna Azubuike or guard Anthony Morrow will start next to Crawford. That’s not much news, accept they didn’t know which one yet (Nellie wasn’t at shootaround by the time I arrived). Whichever player starts, the other figures to get a chunk of minutes off the bench. Morrow figures to be the likely starter, as Azubuike is diverse in his game and can come in for any situation, whether they need scoring, rebounding, defense, penetration, etc.

* Corey Maggette, who missed Monday’s practice with flu-like symptoms, was at shootaround and looked fine, like his normal self. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but it looks like he’ll be ready to play.

* Eddie Jordan’s firing might a bad thing for the Warriors, I think. Firings wake players up. Teams often play well for a new coach, if for nothing else than to prove they need to be on the court. I am expecting Washington go all out tonight. Unless … they want to protest Jordan’s firing by playing poorly and showing it wasn’t Jordan’s fault.

* I talked to a couple people on the team and the feeling is that Wright and Randolph are going to start getting consistent minutes. Maggette’s minutes being cut back opens up minutes for Wright at the four. But Randolph’s minutes should come at the three, backing up Stephen Jackson. With Turiaf backing up Biedrins, that means Wright/Randolph and Biedrins or Turiaf could get more time together. We’ll see. It’s all hunches and feeling at this point.

Holla later


From Jamal’s Craw

Got my first chance to talk to the newest Warriors, guard Jamal Crawford. Watching him in his first practice, I am going to go out on a limb and say he’s pretty good. Most important, he is in control. You know how when many of the Warriors are dribbling, you feel like a turnover is about to happen? How many times have you been watching the game and involuntarily applied the white-knuckle death grip to the arm of the chair while one of the Warriors precariously led a fast break?
You’re not going to get that feeling with Crawford. In that short 30-minute stint I saw, he was composed and fluid with his ball-handling and pace. It really stood out, too.
Anyway, after practice, his new, thick binder of plays by his side, Crawford sat down to chat.

What was your reaction to the news of the trade?
I was surprised because my name wasn’t out there at all. When I heard he news I was shocked. But after that, I was excited.

So you happy to be back on the West Coast?
Personally, yes. Not just being on the West Coast, but the way we play. I’ve been a fan for a while, watching all the games. … So I’m excited.

What was New York like with all that drama?
It was tough. It was tough. We went through a lot. It was a lot more off the court than anything. It seemed like it was always something, so it was hard to focus on just trying to win, which is the bottom line.

How do you think you and Monta will work out?
I think we can play together. I don’t think we’ll have a problem at all. Both of us like to play off the ball and on the ball. When you have two players in the backcourt that want to do that, you won’t have problems.

What’s the Warriors reputation from the outside looking in?
Fun. Definitely fun to watch. Even when you guys were in the playoffs that year, I wanted to come down, it seemed so exciting. I think the fans, they make it like a college atmosphere. They make it really, really fun. It makes it almost like you’re in summer league in high school. You know, it’s just a lot of fun out there playing.

What is the learning curve for you?
I’ve got the big playbook so far. I’ll learn some things. For the most part, pretty simple to start, pretty basic. But I’ll pick it up as time goes on.

When was the last time you’ve had freedom on the court?
Maybe Chicago. Honestly, I talked to my high school coach this morning, I haven’t had this type of feeling since then. Us players just go have fun, the ball’s going to be in your hands a lot, get everybody set. Get guys involved so they’re oiut there having fun, they’re playing hard. We’ll have fun together.

I had a lot of different coaches. Everyone of them was different – from Lenny Wilkens to Larry Brown to Isiah to coach D’Antoni. Coach D’Antoni’s system is similar to this one. This one I think is even a little bit easier to pick up. So it help I just played in that system, for sure.

How does it feel to be wanted?
It feels so good. It feels so good. Honestly, I think this system fits me better than any system in the league. Coming here with coach Nelson, a Hall of Fame coach … it’s re-energizing. I’m excited.

You know any of these guys?
I knew Stephen Jackson. I knew Corey Maggette and Ronny over the years. Everybody seems really friendly and they welcomed me with open arms.

Jax is happy you’re here, huh?
Yeah, you should ask him about that. (smile) He’s pretty happy.

Would you say you’re better as a point guard or a shooting guard?
Honestly, it’s weird because I’ve always (played point guard). In high school I played point guard. Coming into the NBA I was a point guard. So I’ve always been a point guard who can score. But once you get big-number scoring games, they’re like “He’s a scorer” and they put you in that box. But like I told coach Nelson, I think he’ll be more surprised than anything at my passing. Coach D’Antoni when he came he thought I’d be averaging 25 points a game. After he got with me, he was like, ‘You’re a better passer than anything.’ So I have no problem getting those guys the ball and scoring when I need to.

You feel like an old veteran around all these young guys?
I do, but I feel young as well. I’m in my ninth year, but I’m just 28. I came in a 19 years old. So it’s refreshing to be around these guys.

What ties to the Bay Area do you have?
I have some family here. It’s only an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-45-minute flight from Seattle. And I have a lot of family in Los Angeles so they’ll all be out supporting. … Now I’m on the West Coast. It’s hard because on the East, people are still at work. Now they get a chance to see me.

What are your feelings about coming to a franchise that is rebuilding?>
That’s fine. I’m excited. It’s a new challenge. I think when you do that, there’s no expectations. You can go out and watch the young guys grow and get better. I think we hae some great young talent, especially playing with those guys today. Morrow is a great shooter. You can’t give that guy any space. You got Goose. You’ve got Monta when he gets healthy. There are so many young guys. Brandan Wright. Anthony Randolph. All these guys are getting better. Hopefully we can kind of be the ones to show them the way.

What’s up with No. 6?
I wore 23 in high school. Two times three is six. I just wanted a fresh start. I wore No. 1 in Chicago. I wore No. 11 in New York. I just wanted a fresh start, a different look, a different feel. … When I was in New York ( I wore 11 for) Isiah Thomas because he was so instrumental in bringing me there.

So shouldn’t you wear No. 19 to pay homage to Nellie?
I think I’m so skinny, I look better in single digits.

How would you assess yourself defensively?
Defensively, I think I’m better on the ball defensively. Weakside, sometimes I have a tendency to kind of watch. I personally don’t want my man to score, but you’ve got to be a better help defender. I feel like I can keep growing in that area and keep growing in my overall game. I only played two years of high school, a half of year of college and now this is my 10th or 11th coach in nine years. So there’s been a lot of change. But I’ll get better at it.

You comfortable guarding bigger guards?
Yeah, because I played the two. When I played with Steph I played the two and with Duhon I played the two, so that’s not a problem. So that’s why I think with Monta, when he comes back, he can guard the point guard and I can guard the two and on offense we can switch up.

You might ending guarding threes here, too …
That’s fine, because we played Nate, Duhon and myself together a lot.

You might have to guard fours …
That’s fine. They’ve got to guard me, too. I saw Corey doing that last night. … In New York, myself, Nate, Duhon and Wilson Chandler started at power forward and he’s really probably a natural three. So (D’Antoni’s system) is very, very similar.

What do you think Oracle Arena will be like?
That Monday against the Heat? Hopefully we can get some wins on this trip and get the fans excited and hopefully they’ll want to come out and support us.

What about Saturday’s game?
New York? I haven’t thought about that one. I want to get Washington, then go to Boston, do one at a time.

Isn’t it amazing how the trade and the scheduling worked out?
I know. (We play them) that fast. Unbelievable. It really is. … Everything happens for a reason. I think this is a huge opportunity for myself and I’m just really excited.

Does all the drama hurt a team on the court?
It does. It really does. We did a better job later blocking it out. This year, there was some stuff with Steph going on. But besides that, it was a pretty drama free year. We got off to the best start in 10 years for the Knicks. So it was surprising, like I said, with this trade but … It’s weird because like, Brandon Roy is one of my best friends. He just played you guys two weeks ago and he was like, ‘I love it down there.’ Then when the trade went through, I think he was more excited than any of us. I talk to him everyday. He was like, ‘Mal, you’re going to love it there. They gone love you. It’s a perfect fit.’ We talked before the season about if I ever got traded or if I ever re-signed with somebody, this was the place. SO it’s weird. I’m just happy. I’m very happy. It’s close to home. It’s perfect.

Looking to rack up the assists passing to Morrow?
Yeah, he’s a scorer. I know exactly where to put it for him. I was watching last night. Teams are really starting to key on him a little bit, but he’ll find ways to get going.

Part of that is getting him shots, right?
I’m not really worried about scoring. I’ve been known for that my whole career anyway. That’s always the last resort. I want to make sure these guys get the ball feeling good about themselves. My thought is to get those guys going first and then scoring, I’ll take the opportunities. But I want to set the table for those guys.

This team has struggled in the fourth quarter, but you have a reputation for being clutch. You looking forward to coming up big down the stretch for this team?
I love it. In the fourth quarter, my focus really goes up. I could be 0-for-10 through the first three then go 5-for-5 in the fourth when the game is on the line. In New York, if you can do it there with those fans and stuff going on, I think my fans here will help me out a lot.

You had a couple years ago where you hit a bunch of game-winners. What was that like?
I hit four in one year. The year before I had two. Last year, total I had seven that was actually considered game-winners, but there were a lot more with like 10 seconds left or so. That’s a great rush.

Is there pressure kind of replacing Baron?
He’s a friend of mine. I grew up with him in LA. So I know Baron pretty well. I think we’re different in some ways, but some things are the same. I think we’re both pretty exciting. I think he’s a team – I know he’s a team-first guy and I want to put my team first, for sure. It’s hard because all the stuff that happened in New York, if you’re still there, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re just part of that whole losing regime.” I think we had some good players, we just didn’t jell and it just didn’t work out. But that tag is always on you. So I want to shake that tag. It’s a new start.

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, right?
It’s hard, though. There, if you’re not beating a team that they think you should be beating, and it’s a tie score, they’ll boo. During timeouts, people are shooting for trips to Hawaii or whatever. If they miss the wrong way, they’ll boo them, too. It’a tough, so it will be a welcomed change. But I had a good time.